My motivational tip for you this week is in the form of a last line. Sometimes, if you’re given a theme, opening line, or even last line, it can start the thought processes working and before you know it, you have a story. Your last line:
If only, he thought.
This is the story I came up with:
He couldn’t believe his eyes. Surely not right there in the supermarket? He tugged at his mother’s sleeve.
‘Matthew, I’m talking,’ she swiped at his arm.
‘But, Mum, it’s Sam. He’s here.’
She ignored him, continuing to chat to Mrs Ramsden from number five. ‘Those boys next door are so noisy. Parents have no idea these days.’
Matthew’s eyes were drawn back to the figure of Sam. He blinked. Sam was still there. But how could he be? Sam should be on his spaceship patrolling the universe. Matthew stared at Sam. He was huge, at least ten feet tall. His silver spacesuit sparkled and his helmet was enormous. Light bounced off its shield, dazzling Matthew’s eyes. He smiled. Spaceman Sam was actually there, right in front of him and he was walking his way.
Matthew had never seen a spaceman carrying a shopping basket before. But Matthew supposed even spacemen needed to shop somewhere. He had always liked ‘Bob the Builder’ best. That was until Spaceman Sam had come along. The shiny suited man had proceeded to take over his bedroom. Duvet, curtains, lamps; Matthew had it all.
He frowned. He wondered where Sam had parked the spaceship. Sam’s spaceship was brilliant. It was the biggest spaceship Matthew had ever seen. Not that he had seen that many up close, or from far away for that matter. But it was big anyway. So where was it? It couldn’t be in the car park. That was always full. He knew that because his mother moaned about it every time they came.
Suddenly Sam’s spaceship was the last thing on Matthew’s mind. The spaceman was bounding towards him, his mighty boots almost as big as Matthew himself. But something wasn’t right. It was Colin. Where was Colin? He should have been by Sam’s side. Sam was nothing without Colin. They were inseparable. Colin was the first two-headed cat to land on the moon. And in the adventure, ‘Planet Colin’ he had discovered a brand new planet all by himself.
Matthew hoped Colin was all right. Perhaps he was flying the spaceship. Maybe it was hovering over the supermarket at that very moment. He would have to ask Sam. The spaceman stopped in front of him, his head taller than the highest shelf. Matthew gulped. He opened his mouth. No words came out. Sam bent towards him and a gigantic gloved hand reached out. Matthew’s body went rigid from head to toe. Sam patted the boy on the head and he was gone, striding down the aisle.
‘Matthew, what on earth is wrong with you?’ his mother took his hand, gripping it to stop him shaking.
‘Did you see him? Did you see him pat me on the head?’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘Spaceman Sam. He was here. He touched my head.’
His mother swung round. ‘I can’t see anyone, Matthew.’
‘Well, he’s gone now. But you should have seen him. It was Sam. He’s the bestest ever,’ Matthew’s green eyes glazed over.
His mother glared at him. ‘Matthew, please stop being so rude. I’m having a conversation with Mrs Ramsden. I shan’t be long and then we’ll go home.’
‘Can I go after Sam? Can I, Mum, can I?’
His shoulders slumped and he watched his mother’s lips twitch as she gabbled on. He tried not to think about Sam, but he couldn’t help it. He wondered if Sam was planning a long trip. In the last adventure Sam had saved the world from Evil Eric, the barbarian spaceman. Maybe Sam was going on holiday. He deserved one. He always worked very hard.
Matthew wasn’t sure where spacemen went on holiday. He hoped Sam was going to Bognor Regis like they were.
He wondered if the supermarket stocked special spacemen provisions. They did have some funny shaped freezers, which contained strange looking food. That had to be it.
He kicked at a piece of paper on the ground. His mother sounded as if she would never stop talking. He wondered if she would notice if he went after Sam. Now she was laughing, giggling about Jilly from number ten and her disastrous perm.
He slowly edged his trainer-clad feet down the aisle, the red reflectors shining brightly. His mother’s arms were flapping up and down as she described something and Mrs Ramsden was nodding her head in agreement. His heart hammered and he dived round the corner. He paused and listened.
‘And what about Paula’s tattoo? It’s disgusting.’
Matthew grinned. He had done it. Now he had to find Sam. He smiled smugly. He knew just where Sam would be. Rows and rows of freezers stood before him. An old man stooped over one, his balding head as shiny as Sam’s suit. Two freezers down, a woman was staring at her shopping list.
The hairs on the back of his neck were rigid. Someone was behind him. Soft breath blew onto his collar. A grunt, a groan, then a giggle. He swung round and two older boys laughed as they ran past.
Matthew turned his attention back to Sam. He started to panic. He couldn’t see him anywhere. What if he was too late? What if Sam had already gone? He started to sprint, his small legs pumping up and down.
A glint of silver caught his eye. It was Sam, but he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. He was in the forbidden section. What was Sam doing there? His Dad loved the forbidden section, but his mother didn’t ever let him go near it.
Matthew was sure the butterflies in his stomach were working their way into his throat. He had never been this close to the forbidden section before. There were green bottles, yellow, pink and blue ones, too. All the colours of the rainbow were lined up along the shelves. Spaceman Sam picked out some brown bottles. Matthew counted twenty-four of them. Sam must be very thirsty.
What as he doing now? No, he couldn’t be. Sam was making his way to the checkout. Matthew hurried forward, his nerves forgotten. He wondered if the supermarket took silver stones. All the shops in space did.
Matthew’s chest was on fire as he ran after Sam. It was worse than sports day. He hated running. Skateboarding was much better. But they didn’t let you do that at school.
Spaceman Sam paused, perhaps remembering an urgent supply for his mission. Matthew stopped, still fifty yards away. He felt light-headed. He wasn’t going to make it.
Why was he bothering anyway? He was going to the Spaceman Sam Live Show later that afternoon. But it wouldn’t be the same. He would be surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of screaming kids. His best mate, Danny would be so impressed if Matthew told him he had talked to Spaceman Sam. He had to do it. He had to find out about Sam’s next mission. Everyone would be so jealous.
Sam was on the move again, striding closer and closer to the checkout.
‘No!’ Matthew said, diving towards the shimmering figure.
Another stood before him, towering over him, threatening to eat him whole.
‘Matthew, there you are,’ his mother stepped towards him. ‘I told you never to run off like that. Don’t you ever do that again. I was so worried.’
She reached for him, her arms as long as Mister Tickle wrapping round him. He fought for freedom, his eyes firmly on Sam.
‘Let me go.’
‘What’s wrong with you, Matthew? I shan’t take you to see that show if you carry on like that.’
He didn’t care. He was going to see Sam now, the real Sam. Everyone knew it wasn’t really Spaceman Sam in the show. No, the real Sam had far more important things to do.
Matthew looked at his mother and than back to Sam. He hung his head and peered round at his mother once more. Her ice-cold blue eyes stared at him. Grown ups never understood.
‘I’m sorry, Mum, but I have to do this,’ Matthew said, pushing his mother away and he was gone, flying through the air.
‘Wait, Spaceman Sam, wait!’ Matthew reached the checkout.
The exit doors sprang open as Sam prepared to go through. He stopped, swivelling round. He waved to Matthew and vanished through the doors. Matthew stared after him, his own mission failed. If only, he thought.