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.
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: