Hope you all had a great weekend. Here are some writing prompts to get you in the writing mood. If you want to send me your work on these themes to be included on my blog next Monday, please just post them at the end in the comments box or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Word Prompt: Relations
To see last week’s word and photo prompts, click here
Thank you to those of you who sent in your creative offerings and also to those who had a go just for themselves.
Please click on the following link to see Geoff Le Pard‘s super interpretation of the themes:
Carla Burns sent in this entertaining and compelling story:
She had no idea where she had first heard or read it – heard, presumably, as it had been part of her vocabulary so long it must have predated her ability to read – but ‘vantage point’ had always been Lisa’s favourite phrase.
Vantage point. She used to roll it round and round in her head, sometimes whispering it out loud to relish the power of the syllables and the strength of the consonants on her tongue. She loved the excitement and mystery at which it hinted; the sense of seeing, watching, assessing from a location that, as far as Lisa believed, must always be secret.
It was her love of secrecy that prompted her to invent the game.
‘We are going to be spies,’ she informed her brother, Philip, who, at five, was two years younger and easily malleable. Lisa had little idea of what spies were but, somehow, she was sure they availed themselves of vantage points.
She explained the rules of the game.
‘We mustn’t let anyone see us,’ she began. ‘We need to see everything in the room, but Mummy and Daddy mustn’t see us. We must move around very, very quietly, and hide under the settee and chairs, or behind the curtains.’
The purpose of the spying was not clear; for Lisa, the very action of spying was enough in itself, and, for Philip, being included in his big sister’s game was beyond his wildest dreams.
Never had two small children been so quiet. After the evening meal was eaten and washed up, and Mummy and Daddy had settled down in the lounge, the game began.
Philip, being the smaller, was able to fit under the spindly legs of the cottage suite, and even under a nest of tables scantily covered with a cloth. Lisa, watching from her own vantage point halfway up the open staircase at the back of the room – actually in full view, but, cunningly, behind her parents’ backs so still remaining unseen – panicked as the cloth flapped and writhed as he squeezed in. But Mummy didn’t look up from her knitting and Daddy didn’t open his eyes, and Lisa was proud of her brother’s derring-do.
Night after night the game continued.
‘Coming!’ Lisa would call at bedtime, as if from a long way away, making furious signals to her associate to creep to another part of the room before sauntering forth as if from somewhere else entirely. When he was safe, she would follow suit.
If Mummy and Daddy noticed these evening missions, they never said anything, and nor did the children. Face-washing, tooth-brushing and pyjamas were observed in quite the normal way, the only difference being that Lisa did not make a fuss about going to bed at the same time as Philip. She was afraid this would draw attention to their covert activities.
After a few evenings’ such pleasant occupation, Lisa began to think of ways of branching out. They needed more hiding places, with better views of the room. Surely Mummy and Daddy – usually so relentlessly omniscient – would soon discover their current vantage points, rendering them obsolete. A backup plan was needed.
After school one day, she had a brainwave. Moving their toy chest – an old travel trunk used by Daddy during the war – into the lounge, ostensibly to make their toys more accessible, Lisa checked if Philip could fit inside. He did, perfectly, and by applying his eye to the keyhole, had a clear, if not particularly comprehensive, view of the room.
She briefed him carefully on the arrangements for later.
‘This is such a good vantage point, you can stay there all evening,’ she told him. ‘But because they mustn’t see where you are, when they call us to bed I will go first, and you get out after I’ve gone. Then it will still be a secret.’
After dinner, Lisa installed Philip in the chest. She replaced the top shelf over him, and carefully arranged a few toys on it as camouflage. She then took up her own position behind the curtains opposite, where she could signal towards Philip’s keyhole should any emergency arise.
Everything went to plan. At bedtime she followed Mummy to the bathroom while Daddy collected their nightclothes. Exhausted by the evening’s adrenalin rush, she soon fell into a thrilling sleep populated with mysterious men in black clothes hiding in cupboards to catch robbers.
Much later, she was awakened by her father.
‘Darling, we’ve got some terrible news,’ he began, his voice hoarse with emotion. ‘You must be a very brave girl. You need to come downstairs, and there are some policemen here who want to ask you some questions.’
Lisa wasn’t altogether convinced this wasn’t still a dream. It all sounded very exciting; just the sort of thing she and Philip could incorporate into future missions, she was sure.
Her mother was sitting on the sofa, red-eyed and sobbing. A policeman was standing awkwardly by the door holding a cup and saucer, and another was perched on the edge of one of the chairs. Daddy carried Lisa into the room in her dressing gown. He sat down with her on his knee.
‘Now, darling, we need you to think very carefully,’ he said to her. ‘When and where did you last see Philip?’
Lisa was puzzled. He had been in the lounge all evening, same as she had. She didn’t understand – and nor did she want to give away the location of the best-ever vantage point.
‘He was here. All evening,’ she replied, slightly cagily. The policemen glanced at each other.
‘But where, darling; where exactly?’ her mother cried. ‘Please, darling; you need to tell us. Philip is …’ she broke down into anguished sobs, ‘… missing.’
‘Did your brother go outside at all during the evening?’ the seated policeman asked, fiddling with his notebook.
‘No, we were in here – ’ Still reluctant to give the game away, Lisa couldn’t quite bring herself to say ‘spying’. ‘We were playing,’ she finished eventually.
‘Have you any idea at all where Philip may have gone?’ her mother whispered.
‘No.’ Reluctantly, however, Lisa decided to come clean. ‘After he got out of the toy chest we just went to bed.’
‘Toy chest?’ her father asked. ‘He wasn’t in the toy chest. Do you think we haven’t looked there?’ he said pleadingly to the policemen.
‘Shall we just look again?’ The policeman with the teacup put it down. ‘Won’t do any harm.’
He lifted the lid of the chest. He ignored the toys Lisa had arranged on the top shelf, and lifted it out.
‘Might this be the object of our search?’ he asked portentously.
Mummy gave a little scream and ran to the chest. Curled in the bottom, fast asleep, was Philip.
‘Shall I?’ asked the policeman, carefully lifting the little boy out. Philip opened his eyes and rubbed his face. ‘Policeman?’ he said groggily, before settling back to sleep on his rescuer’s shoulder.
Lisa had been right to be worried about revealing the location of their vantage point. Mysteriously, the toy chest disappeared, and, for the next few days, she noticed pieces of suspiciously familiar polished wood reposing in the log basket next to the fireplace.
But she needn’t have worried, because very soon a new game suggested itself to her, a game that promised even more excitement than the last. It was something she had heard a lot about in the past few days. It was called ‘wasting police time’. She couldn’t wait to get started.
Robert Griffiths sent in an enjoyable ode to spies:
I looked up then down
I looked all around town
Thought it will never be found
I could spend a penny or even a pound
Inside then outside along a road
On the beach, in the town, listen to music, read books, watch films
Thought of times present and times past
I asked a man playing a big tin drum
He put down his rum
Think of the rhythm boy, think of the beat
In there you will not find defeat
He pulled out a seat
“Sit here, sit here,” he said
And tapped me on the head
He sang a Caribbean tune and drank his rum
I went home
It’s in the rhythm, it’s in the beat
Had a cup of tea looked up at my cross and made a plea,
Yes, church tomorrow, there I will find the answer
Full of hope thinking this is a going to work
The sun hot; church full; clapping, singing, mass long, money collected, children shuffle,
Choir’s finale, people leaving through doors
Bright sun guides them out
I see priest, now is my chance,
He is shaking hands, saying goodbye,
I join queue, push in front, take his hand, look in his eyes
Oh, dear Esther, there’s no story there about spies.