My Weekly Writing Challenge

During the last school holidays, my daughter came up with a fun challenge for you – five  words to fit into a ten-word story. Well, she clearly doesn’t have enough homework this half-term as she’s come up with some more words for my latest challenge. These words are:

  • Fedora
  • Patagonia
  • Pink
  • Melancholy
  • pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (apparently the longest word in the dictionary and it means a lung disease caused by inhalation of very fine silica or quartz dust!)

So you can choose another five for your story. I look forward to seeing the results – I’m not expecting many takers!

For my writing challenge last week, I gave you an ending to your story:

She shook her head and smiled. The day hadn’t started well, but it had certainly ended with a bang.

Here’s what you came up with:

Keith Channing took a real event and added to it:

Reluctantly, Jacqui dragged herself out of bed. She hadn’t slept at all well. She had gone to bed the previous evening with a rotten summer cold developing and threatening to overwhelm her; even the brandy and hot milk, her go-to remedy on these occasions, hadn’t helped at all. To cap it all, just before four in the morning, her faithful companion for more than nine years, her little Jack Russell, had decided that whatever he had eaten in the garden during the evening would serve him better all over Jacqui’s bedclothes than inside his stomach.

As if that wasn’t enough, today was the day she had decided to invite some of her friends around for a crafting session.

Just before ten, her little dog erupted into a frenzy of yapping, signifying that someone had had the temerity to come to her door. It was Juliette, the first of her friends to arrive. The other three turned up at intervals over the following half-hour or so.

These were good friends, kind, giving, supportive friends, the sort of friends she could rely on to rally round whenever there was any kind of emergency, and who could rely on her to do the same. After some minutes of oohing and aahing and ’you should have called us to cancel, if you’re not feeling well; we would have understood’-ing, the group settled down to a few hours of making cards, costume jewellery and all manner of trinkets, each bringing her own special set of skills to the table.

Jacqui was seldom happier than when surrounded by her small clan of friends, and had every expectation that this tight-knit group would go on for ever. They all did. Until, that is, Betty dropped the bombshell that she and her husband were planning to leave the area and return to their roots.

That news was met with stunned silence. All eyes were fixed on Betty, and they weren’t kindly eyes.

“Isn’t anyone going to say anything?” Betty finally asked.

“What is there to say?” Jacqui demanded, “You come in here, in the middle of a really nice day’s crafting, and calmly announce that you’re leaving.”

“And you don’t even say why,” Juliette added, “and don’t give us that garbage about returning to your roots, ‘cos we don’t buy it. What’s really going on, eh, Betty? What?”

“It’s true,” Betty said, leaning back in her chair and rubbing the back of her neck, “we want to be closer to our families, so we can see them more often and watch the little ones grow up.”

Isabelle turned toward her and pointed an accusing finger. “Who was there when you had that trouble last year, eh? Them or us?” she asked, “Where were they when you really needed them? Nowhere to be seen. That’s when you know who your real friends are; but if you’re prepared to turn your back on all that, on everything we have meant to each other, everything we have done for each other, suffering and rejoicing together, then up yours. I want nothing more to do with you.”

“Steady, Issy,” Jacqui said, “perhaps she has a point. I miss my family, too; we all do.”

“But we don’t all abandon ship on a sentimental whim like that,” Issy hissed, “we stick together. That’s what friends do. But if you’re going to take her side, then count me out. Anyone else feel the same?”

Silence. No-one moved.

“Okay, if that’s how you feel,” Issy said; and with that, she picked up her work and stormed out of the door. Betty started to cry, hiding her face behind her hands with embarrassment. Jacqui, Juliette and Annette comforted her as best they could, but it was clear that no more crafting would happen that day.

Suddenly, Betty’s face cleared. She looked up, beaming.

“That worked,” she said.

“What d’you mean?” Jacqui asked.

“I’ve seen how Issy has been trying to take over the group for a while, now. I’m not going anywhere, but I had to do something to stop her. Good riddance, I say.”

“Maybe you’re right, Betty,” Juliette said, “I hadn’t noticed, but now you mention it, Issy is rather controlling, and she does always steer us to doing what she wants, instead of what we had planned. I’m sure we’ve all had enough of her ‘Issy fits’.”

The three others nodded in agreement.

Jacqui shook her head and smiled. The day hadn’t started well, but it had certainly ended with a bang.

I love Geoff Le Pard‘s interpretation of the theme:

Shopping with mother was a chore, but then anything with mother in the same sentence was a chore. A sentence. Ellie sniggered. Yes, a life sentence.

She should love the old bag, she thought as she rummaged through the past the sell by date yoghurts distractedly. But she had yet to be beatified so that was beyond a mere mortal such as herself.

Take the journey here. ‘I’ll be gone soon then you’ll be sorry.’

‘Don’t say that, mum. You know…’

‘You just don’t care. Well, don’t think I’m leaving you anything. The dog’s home, they’ll get it all.’

‘I don’t want…’

‘And that person won’t get it either, sod him.’

She meant Keith. Now there was a saint, to put up with his mother in law. His patience made it worse, really. If only he’d get angry with her.

She picked up peach yoghurts, two days out of date and moved to the stale bread bin. If mother had so much money, why did she insist on living on left overs and scraps? Ellie plucked a dented ready-sliced tin and put it in her basket.

And then there was Mr Ahmed’s boys. Lovely lads, so polite. They’d seen her struggling to get mum into her chair and offered to help. ‘Get their greasy hands off me, the darkies.’ Ellie had really wanted to strangle her after that. That’s why she’d left her outside, moaning about the smell as she stared at the boys. ‘Don’t think you can get away with that, my girl.’ Her whinging on repeat had followed Ellie into the store but at least in here it was quiet.

That was when Ellie was thrown backwards ten feet, ending in the frozen peas. Smoke and debris surrounded her as she was rendered deaf by a humungous explosion.

Four hours later, Ellie sat on a chair in the hospital, her head bandaged. Several people had sought her out to comfort her. At first she hadn’t understood but gradually it became clear. Her mother, left alone, had wheeled her chair over to where the two Ahmed boys were waiting. Someone had said she had a go at them. Another said she had picked up their bag, after an argument. What was not in doubt was the fact that Ellie’s mother, in seeking to pull something out of the boys’ bag had detonated a huge bomb, destroying some of the shopping centre as well as herself and the two boys. Ellie wanted to feel guilty but all she felt was relief that the only people who had died were the two brothers, apparently suicide bombers and her mother. Funny how things work out.

She shook her head and smiled. The day hadn’t started well, but it had certainly ended with a bang.

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35 Responses to My Weekly Writing Challenge

  1. Francesca Aniballi says:

    Patagonia was melancholy. Alice got a pink fedora and pneumoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

  2. Can’t wait to enter another time when there is TIME. Sent you an e-mail, not sure if it will reach you. Have written a post just now celebrating my latest follower: you. I would like to make you a gift of my e-book, set in the Cotswolds/Buford. Would need something? to get them to send the gift to your device. Would that be okay with you? Let me know. Thanks. All of a sudden felt like celebrating and you became the reason. Let me know. Thanks.

  3. Oh my, that’s quite a challenge! Is there a word limit? I’m really tempted 😀

  4. You’ll have to click on my link to read my story and see the picture of “Patagonia” aka Stroppy
    http://judithwesterfield.com/2015/05/29/cure-for-pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis-part-iii/

  5. Kate Loveton says:

    Fine stories by Keith and Geoff; I enjoyed reading both.

    Your daughter is an evil little girl! *grin* I don’t think I could do justice to this challenge, but I can’t wait to see what your talented writers come up with!

  6. pollyesther says:

    “A pink fedora melancholy, remembering combatting my pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis in Patagonia.”

    Regards, Pollyesther

  7. Melancholy in Pategonia
    Pink fedora beside me,
    Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis inside me

    oh, melancholic Pategonia,
    take my Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
    leave my pink fedora.

    Pategonia
    A pink melancholy sky
    A fedora
    Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis in disguise

    Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis killed Pategonia
    a melancholy pink fedora floats
    earthbound

    Thanks for this brilliant challenge. I’m having too much fun and I think it’s time to stop now…

  8. Pingback: Making it write

  9. Pingback: Hellen’s Spam Adventures (short story) | Simplicity Lane

  10. I gave it my best shot – ‘Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis?’ What? Patagonia removed her pink fedora. Overwhelmed with melancholy.
    Thanks for the challenge!
    Mel

  11. patgarcia says:

    Hi,
    I’ve just finished reading Stephpheny’s feature about you on her blog and thought I would drop in and see what your blog is all about. I also participated in the A to Z Blog Challenge. I didn’t get to your blog but will be visiting it on the A to Z Road Trip.

    Shalom,
    Patricia

  12. Okay, I HAD to try this. Tried to talk myself out of it, but you know how it is. Since you specified a “story,” I made mine a news story. Even gave it a headline just for good measure.

    TRAGEDY IN THE NEWS

    Infected pink fedoras in Patagonia led to melancholy and Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

  13. Pingback: 10-Word Story Challenge | In Love With Words!

  14. Sacha Black says:

    “Melancholy?” Fedora asked. “Must worse dear. Patagonia has pink pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.”

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