My Weekly Writing Challenge

Last week I gave you an opening line for a story or poem; this week’s writing challenge is about a closing line. Your line is, Phew, that was a close one! Let your imaginations run riot!

Now, onto last week’s stories and poems, which opened with the line, ‘I knew I didn’t like her as soon as I saw her‘:

Sacha Black‘s character is feeling a little riled. Enjoy the effective characterisation:

I knew I didn’t like her as soon as I saw her. New girl or not, those permanently puckered lips were going to irritate me.

From across the desk and before she even popped a sweet in her mouth I sensed her arm stretching for the packet. My skin prickled. Her pout ignited a warm tickle of rage from somewhere deep inside me. I flexed my fingers and slapped my keyboard in frustration. I didn’t care if it wasn’t the computer’s fault, she was about to suck and slurp at those bloody sweets. It was totally distracting, and more annoying no one else in the office seemed to notice.

“Bitch,” I whispered under my breath.

“You say something?” my manager asked.

“No, no, talking to myself,” I replied through gritted teeth.

I watched her arm waltz across the table in slow motion. I shot her the filthiest look I could muster. Of course, she was oblivious. She continued to shout obnoxiously down the phone to someone who was clearly an idiot.

“No, Tom, no. Its not about broadband any more,” she chuckled leaning back in her chair and swinging an arm behind her head, “it’s about supercharged broadband,” she snorted a laugh out and threw her headpiece down abruptly hanging up on Tom.

She bounced a sweet up and down in her hand for a moment, testing my patience; she threw it up once more and caught it in her mouth. She caught me looking at her and winked, clearly impressed at her own confectionary Olympics.

I gave her a curt smile and turned back to my screen trying not to vomit indignation over the computer.

“Arrogant bitch.”

The harder I begged my ears to ignore her, the louder her incessant sweet torture became. She sucked, and slurped at the sugared pastel like it was trying to escape her open mouth.

Your mouth should be a prison for each morsel, a final resting place for the edible. Not a paradise for opportunistic escape artists. Any convict in an orange jumpsuit with even a quarter of a brain cell could escape her jaws.

My eyes darted furiously around the tables next to me. Why wasn’t anyone else looking at her? She was so loud. It just isn’t possible for anyone to work through the noise of her chamming.

Her candyfloss coloured nails tiptoed across the table toward the eagerly awaiting sweets.

“Hell. No,” I bellowed.

It took a moment for the wave of unease accompanying the awkward silence in the office to hit me. I appeared to be on top of her desk, on all fours, fist clenching her packet of sweets. I took a moment of satisfaction from her lips puckering at the sight of me panting salivary rage in her face.

“I…I just mean…” I desperately searched for a rational explanation for my behaviour. The anger dissipated to my now flame red cheeks, “it’s just, er, that’s my favourite colour, and you ought to share them round. Office tradition an all.”

I climbed off the desk, and chucked the sweets on to the next table. She wouldn’t make it through probation.

Geoff Le Pard just has a way with words:

Call of nature
I knew I didn’t like her as soon as I saw her. I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t like me at that moment but I was just being honest with myself.

The wrinkles, for starters. Pulled tight around angry eyes. And the matted hair and those swollen hands, all blue like it’s cold.

I knew what she was thinking from the protective way she crossed her arms and pursed her lips, like somehow it was my fault. After all I warned her what would happen, why did she think it would be any different.

But it’s not that simple is it? Common decency means you’re expected to make an effort so I dug out an old smile and stuck it on my face. I should say something, some platitude. It was expected but what do you say when your head is so full of that god-awful smell that it’s corrupted any coherence you once had?

All you can do is try, ever so hard to keep hold of the smile, make eye contact and lean forward. Brace yourself against the nearest firm object and reach. R.E.A.C.H.

Fingers seem to claw, as your whole being rebels; the antibodies that cloud your vision try and push you back but you have to stay in the moment.

After all this is your fault. You wouldn’t be here, but for you. It is just punishment. Take it slow and it will be fine. You know it’s just fear. Fear of that first time. Fear of failure. Fear of the future. You’ve wanted it too much and now there it is. She is. In your hands.

Your daughter. If you admit you love her now, you’ll never be free. But that’s all you ever wanted.

Keith Channing has written a story to make us all stop and think:

I knew I didn’t like her as soon as I saw her.

Oh, it wasn’t just her close-cropped, bright purple hair with the green highlights, or the tattoos that covered her arms, neck and the exposed parts of her legs (and a lot more, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn). It wasn’t the array of ‘decorative’ metal on and around her face, or even her mode of dress; something out of a Judge Dredd comic book; although that alone was enough to put me very much on my guard.

It was more than any of those things; more than the sum of those things. There seemed to be an aura emanating from her, an almost physical air of malevolence.

If a group of tough-looking youths are monopolising the pavement I’m walking on, and behaving in what appears to be a threatening way, I will always cross the road to avoid them. They may be nice enough people, but that’s not information to which I am privy at the moment a decision is needed. I don’t have the luxury of spending time getting to know them to find out what upstanding, kind, gentle people they are. I must evaluate my situation, and then act to manage any potential risk.

I saw the possibility of a situation, and turned to cross the road. As I did, I caught the heel of my left shoe in the grille of a storm drain and went over, right into the road. An approaching car swerved so as not to run over my head, which, by dint of good reflexes, had avoided impact with the tarmac. A small crowd gathered around me. I was dazed. My knees hurt where I fell, as did my shoulder, where it had hit the road surface. I was as embarrassed as hell. I mean, seriously, how can one hold on to any shred of dignity in a situation like that?

I head a woman’s voice saying, “Stand back please, I’m medically trained and can handle this,” then, more quietly, “are you okay? Will you let me check you over?”

I took one look at the woman I was so insistent on avoiding, but who had now come to my aid, at which point the nervousness I felt about her added to my pain and embarrassment, and I wept openly. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done that, it was so long ago.

“Don’t fret,” she said. Then, noticing the look of terror on my face, “I’m head nurse at the retirement home up the road. I take the piercings out when I’m working, and once I put on my uniform, I don’t look anything like as scary.”

“I’m so sorry,” I blubbed, “I took fright when I saw you walking toward me. The way you were walking and everything; you looked so, I don’t know, so aggressive.”

“I get that a lot, but I still don’t understand why,” she said, “I know my dress and decoration isn’t conventional, and maybe I strut a bit when I’m listening to some kinds of song on my mp3 player, but why does that scare people?”

I was calmer, and able to give a rational response. “The trouble,” I explained, “is that many young people who are aggressive and pose a danger to others dress and act as you do.”

“But that doesn’t mean that everyone who dresses like this is bad. It’s just who I am.”

“I fully agree,” I said, “but consider this. In the movies, the bad guys wear black hats. That doesn’t mean that all people who wear black hats are bad, but it does mean that someone wearing a black hat is more likely to be bad than someone wearing a white hat.”

“Change hat to skin, and you have racial profiling. And that’s what you are doing to me, only based on dress and decoration, rather than race.”

“What’s the choice? When faced with what looks like a potentially dangerous situation, many people, particularly we older folk, don’t have the confidence or courage to stick around and find out what a thoroughly nice person is facing us. We see a risk; we try to avoid it. Only if it can’t be avoided will we face up to it.”

We both learned from that situation. I learned that appearances can be deceptive, and I hope that my new friend learned that appearances can be off-putting.

Jason Moody has treated us to another of his brilliant rhyming poems:

Afternoon…

I knew I didn’t like her, the moment I saw her
I tried making friends, thinking maybe I ought to
But after several cold shoulders and rolls of the eyes
It was perfectly apparent, we were on different sides

We shared the same class, from day to next day
On occasion, I swear I caught her looking my way
This was all fine, I could handle this much
But then she made eyes, at the boy we call Dutch

With her bleached blonde hair and tacky cheap nails
I can imagine right now that she’s spinning some tales
It just isn’t right that she should corner my man
I’ve liked him for ages, by the by his name’s Dan

At lunches and and break she flirts and she poses
She gets right underneath the collective girls’ noses
I wish that right here there were a hole she’d fit in
So then I’d grab Butch, I mean Dan, and I’d win

The constant laughing and joking I just cannot take
And now they are snogging, urgh, just give it a break
So that’s it I’m afraid, I feel sorry for her
I knew I didn’t like her, the moment I saw her.

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7 Responses to My Weekly Writing Challenge

  1. TanGental says:

    Thought I’d try a poem, a rather clumsy sonnet but see what you think

    An Alopecia Sonnet

    It’s often said by those present at my birth
    Be it a doctor or fakir or nurse,
    That because of some follicle curse
    Of hair on my head there was a dearth
    I did all that was asked; I gained some weight:
    A role model with my healthy eating;
    But of hairs on my head, views were fleeting
    No haircuts; they just polished my pate.
    Adolescence is a dark cheerless place
    As you fight to look cool and mature;
    But without hope you remain insecure
    If no shadow has yet crossed your face.
    Those cruel heartless girls, to each other, will say
    As they dump you: ‘Phew that was a close shave!’

  2. The return of an old friend. I hope you like it.

    “What am I to do, Velcro?” asked Kannot, king of the land of O, “Old whats-her-name’s getting damnably silly ideas, again.”

    “What ideas, Sire, and who precisely is getting them?”

    Velcro had been Kannot’s retainer for longer than either of them could remember, which given their ages was probably not very long.

    “She who likes to be called Ma’am when she’s on her throne and her workshops or something when she’s in her judger’s pulpit. Got it into her head that it would be a good idea, after all, for Prince Mite to marry the very, very ugly daughter of the king next door.”

    “I thought Sire had decided on this matter, with the agreement of the Privy Council.”

    “So I had, Velcro, so I had. But now her high-and-mighty queenness has decided otherwise.”

    “Did she say why, Sire?” Velcro asked.

    “Oh, something to do with a coffee morning with all the local queens. How many can there be, for goodness’ sake? The nearest of our four neighbouring kingdoms; or is it five, I can never remember, maybe it’s even six, who knows – or cares? Anyway, the closest is three days’ horse-ride, but she has these coffee mornings every day except Sundays, when she has a lie-in,”

    “That’s nice, Sire, if you spend extra time in bed together. I’m told it helps to support the relationship.”

    “Did I say anything about bed, Velcro, DID I?” the old king shouted.

    “No, Sire, you didn’t.”

    “No, Sire, I didn’t,” he mocked, “When I say a lie-in, I mean she spends most of the day telling lies. And they are whoppers!”

    “If I may be permitted, Sire, I espy a conundrum, a puzzle, if you will.”

    “And if I won’t?”

    “Even so, Sire.”

    “What is this conundrum, this puzzle, if I will?”

    “Simply this, Sire. If the nearest neighbouring kingdom in two days on horseback, that means the others are further, doesn’t it?”

    “It does, of course, simple logic, Velcro. Are you beginning to lose your whatsits?”

    “Memory, Sire?”

    “No…”

    “Reason, then”

    “No, not reason. What’s that thing they have in those big schools for getting degrees?”

    “Universities, Sire?”

    “Yes, Velcro, universities.”

    “Is your Majesty referring to faculties?”

    “Exactly, Velcro. You losing yours?”

    “I sincerely hope not, Sire. I would be of little use to your Majesty without them. Why do you ask?”

    “Because you just suggested that if the nearest kingdom is two days’ ride, the others must be further.”

    “And that caused you to believe that may mind is becoming feeble? I would have though the opposite, Sire.”

    “Velcro, you are confusing the royal brain. Get on with what you wanted to say.”

    “Certainly, Sire. If the nearest neighbouring kingdom is two days’ ride…”

    “And the other are further…”

    “And the others, Sire, are indeed further. Given that scenario, that geographic veracity, that spatial reality…”

    “Get on with it!” King Kannot was renowned for many things, but patience was not one of them.

    “Sire. How can they have a coffee morning in a different kingdom every day, if the closest one takes two days to reach?”

    “Hah-ha! Got her,” the king shouted, jumping up and down with glee. “The old bat obviously thinks I’m a bit simple, doesn’t she?”

    “I can’t imagine where she could possibly get that idea from, Sire,” Velcro replied, as yet another chunk fell off the end of his tongue and landed with a soggy ‘splat’ on the stone floor of the throne room.

    “What’s to be done about it, Velcro?”

    “When is her Majesty next due to host the coffee morning here, Sire?”

    “Tomorrow. Thursday is her day. Not that I’ve ever seen any of them. Women’s stuff, she calls them. Men not allowed even in the same building.”

    “Tell her you’d like to address the ladies, Sire.”

    “Didn’t you hear what I said? Men not allowed.”

    “Sire. Are you not the ruler of this land?”

    “You know I am. Why do you ask?”

    “How can the ruler be banished from a single room, not only in his kingdom, but in his own castle? Are you not King of the Castle?”

    “Of course I am, Velcro. I am supreme ruler of this land, and as such I order you to speak to the queen about this matter.”

    “That would be most improper, Sire. It is not within my power to give instructions to the queen.”

    “Very well, I’ll tell Mite to do it.”

    “The might of Mite might do it, Sire,” Velcro opined, “but the greater force of your Majesty must prevail.”

    So the king took his leave of Velcro, and entered the judging chamber, where his bride was busily harassing some poor soul from her pulpit.

    “When you’ve finished, my dear,” the king said, entering the sacred space of the judging chamber without so much as a ‘by your leave’ or ‘if you please’.

    “Can’t you see I’m busy judging?” she bellowed.

    “I can,” the king calmly replied. “As I say, when you’ve finished.” And with that, he moved to leave the chamber.

    “Don’t walk away when I’m talking to you,” she ranted, “I haven’t finished yet.”

    “Then kindly do so, and when you have, we’ll talk.”

    The queen turned to the supplicant in the dock, saying, “Look, whatever it is you want, you can’t have. Whatever it is you’re accused of, you’re guilty; Bailiffs, take him away and hang him, or something.”

    “But, Judger, I am only here to apply for…”

    “Well, you can’t have it. Now GO AWAY! Now, husband, what do you want?”

    “Where was today’s coffee morning, my sweet?”

    “You know very well, that Wednesdays we have it in Spoland.”

    “Spoland is three days’ ride.”

    “So?”

    “So how are you back in time to cause misery here?”

    “Have you never heard of teleconferencing?”

    “No, I haven’t,” the king replied.

    “Well, one day it will be invented, then you won’t be able to ask so many impertinent questions.”

    “These coffee mornings don’t happen, do they?”

    “Of course they do.”

    “I mean outside of your poor, overworked, befuddled, queenly brain.”

    “They might.”

    “But they don’t”

    “Not exactly,” the queen admitted, “not as such.”

    “So where did this idea of Mite marrying the ugly daughter of that ex-frog come from?”

    “I’m just fed up with the little shit, and I want him married off and out of my hair,” she yelled.

    “You don’t have the power to do that. You are my queen consort. I am the hereditary king; I rule.”

    “You can’t talk to me like that!” she said.

    “Velcro says I can, and he should know,” the king replied. “Let’s go to him, and see if he can resolve this mess.”

    Entering the throne room, the royal pair faced Velcro.

    “Velcro. Can you explain to my beautiful queen, how it is that I am empowered to make major decisions of state, and she isn’t?”

    Velcro looked around the room, trying to find the person the king mentioned, but could only see his Highness and she who is known among the peasantry as ‘Lady Plain Grey’.

    “Certainly, Sire,” then turning to the queen, “Is your Majesty familiar with the concept of the divine right of kings?”

    “Of course I am, but Kannot is left-handed,” the queen replied.

    “I don’t think that makes any difference, Ma’am,” Velcro replied, mentally rolling his eyes. Had he rolled his eyes in a way that was visible to the queen, he might just have lost them. The queen does not take criticism well, even of the implied kind.

    “So you are saying that because Kannot was born royal, he has rights that are denied to me simply because he plucked me from obscurity so he could enjoy my charms and my unbelievable beauty?”

    “And have been doing so ever since, my precious,” the king interrupted in his most Gollum-like manner.

    “That is the case, I’m afraid, Ma’am. ‘Tis the law of the land.”

    “Then the law needs to change,” she said.

    “The law can only be changed by the word of the king,” Velcro said, adding after a pause, “Ma’am.”

    “Well all I can say is that is exceedingly unfair. I’m going to go and judge someone, and they’ll be jolly sorry we had this conversation,” the queen said, storming out of the throne room back into her judging chamber; the chamber where she reigned supreme and her word was still law.

    “I take it that means the prince is not to be shackled to the Princess Tadpole, Sire.”

    “You are not wrong, Velcro, not wrong at all.”

    “And the king’s final word on this episode?” Velcro asked.

    King Kannot replied, “Phew, that was a close one!”

  3. Sacha Black says:

    Sorry, I’m out this week, trying DESPERATELY to get my assignment done. 😦

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