This week’s guest writer is another of my wonderfully talented students. Here’s a little bit about Murray Clarke:
Murray Clarke has a real passion for writing short stories – and began putting pen to paper when he was only eight years old (which is more years ago than he cares to remember!) He has had many flash fiction stories published, mainly in small press magazines. After a lifetime working in the broadcast television industry as part of a video crew filming on location (he was one of the first people to work on ‘Countryfile’ and ‘Top Gear’, for example), he now owns, along with his wife, the franchise to three estate agencies in the East Midlands.
Every day he writes the details on the web for many of the properties on sale, and takes professional photographs. In his spare time, he writes. Last year, being keen to improve his writing skills, Murray enrolled on a Comprehensive Creative Writing Course with The Writers Bureau, under the watchful eye of Esther Newton. His ambition, one day, is to have a book published.
FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH
Friday the thirteenth was never going to be a good day. I knew that. Before you ask, I’m not particularly superstitious. I walk under ladders all the time, and apart from that one occasion when a decorator accidentally dropped a tin of bright red paint all over me, I’ve never had cause for concern.
However, today is different.
“Wake up, Dan!” my wife calls out from the bottom of the stairs. “You’ll be late for work.”
A horrific thought comes into my head as I struggle to get out of bed, wash and dress, ready for the day ahead. Today is Friday…Friday the thirteenth. The unluckiest day of the entire year. For the first time in my life, I feel an overwhelming sense of doom. Unless I am very, very careful, something unpleasant is going to happen to me today, I feel sure. I might be seriously injured. Or even killed.
I walk downstairs into the breakfast room…slowly, with my head hung low.
“I don’t think I’ll go to work today,” I say to Gillian. “The weather’s given out to be icy. I don’t want to skid off the road.”
“You drive a four by four!” she laughs, unsympathetically.
I change tack. “In any case, I feel a bit flu-ish.” I cough discretely as if to emphasis the fact. “Anyway, I can work from home today. Much safer.”
“If I lock myself away in the study, nothing can touch me. I can log onto my work files from there.”
Gill gives me a quizzical look. “Look, darling, you can’t stay here today. The girls are coming round for coffee in an hour. You know you’ll never be able to concentrate once they start their nattering.”
“I can plug my ears with cotton wool. Won’t hear a thing.”
“Now you’re being absolutely ridiculous!” Gill retorts. “Eat your breakfast and get off to work – and stop being so silly!”
Half an hour later, I’m driving down the road – a twenty-minute journey to the office where I work as an accountant. Is it my imagination, or is everyone aiming their cars at me? They’re weaving in and out like dodgems at a fun fair. I’ll be lucky to get to work in one piece.
“Morning, Daniel. How are you today?’ asks Jane, my secretary, who almost knocks into me with the cup of steaming hot coffee she’s carrying.
“Feeling terrible,” I reply.
“Should have stayed at home if you’re not well.”
“Been through that scenario already.”
Nine hours later (after narrowly missing being knocked over in the car park by a speeding motorcyclist), I get back into my car and cautiously head for home. But that’s not before, earlier in the day: my chair inexplicably disintegrated from under me, dumping me unceremoniously onto the floor; I failed to see a pile of greasy chips under my feet in the canteen, and almost fell headlong into the arms of Buxom Brenda from Reception; my computer blew a fuse and almost electrocuted me; I opened the top drawer of the metal filing cabinet which then toppled dangerously towards me (it’s a miracle that Jane was around to save me); and I tripped over a bucket of dirty water, inadvertently left in the corridor by the one of the cleaners, and ended up stripping off down to my underpants and drying my wet clothes on a radiator.
I turn into my street and almost collide with a corporation dust cart and three refuge collectors emptying the bins.
“Thought they came on a Thursday?” I say to Gill, on reaching the sanctuary of my home.
“But today’s Friday…Friday the thirteen.”
“No,” says Gill. “Today is Thursday. The twelfth. Is that what all this nonsense has been about, Dan?”
I look sheepish. But I feel a huge dark cloud of anxiety lifting from me.
“Thank God,” I say… But then I pause and freeze in horror. “But that means that tomorrow will be…”
“Yes,” my wife replies. “Friday the thirteenth…”
If you’d like to see your work in my Guest Writer Spot, please contact me here or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. I accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. All you have to do is make sure your prose is no longer than 2000 words and your poems no more than 40 lines.