Another Story

I didn’t realise how much what I was reading influenced what I was writing until this week.

I read a short story to our writing  group and accepted that the ending was weak. That’s what these groups are all about- helpful criticism to encourage improvement.

But, at home, I was reading Philip Dick short stories which resulted in my turning a gentle romance into a fatal time travel story. I read this to the group yesterday and they all complained that the heroine should not have been murdered. I blame Philip Dick.

I’m not sure I’ll rewrite it again. Each time I read it I find flaws. I’ll leave it and investigate scriptwriting courses. It’s time I had a go at something new.

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‘New’ website

What a great response to my poem. Thanks, folks. Also, now I have updated my website, http://www.juliecround.co.uk I have more people looking at it. I do need to email some of my readers to tell them about it but , most of all, I hope it will bring in more invitations to speak as I don’t have any for 2018 and I know most groups organise their speakers a year in advance.

The poetry book is under discussion but until I am sure of the layout I can’t ask Joan for more cartoons. I wish I had kept a list of everyone who bought “Honey and Humbug” but I didn’t. That’s a lesson, folks, keep a list of all your readers. It seems cheeky but it helps when you write the next book!

Hubby has made a database so I can track all the stories I send out for competitions. That will be my next task, when this hot weather breaks. At present I don’t feel like doing anything!

Review. Scribble.

Scribble is a little short story booklet published by Park Publications in the UK. The Summer 2017 issue has twenty stories and comments on the last issue by readers. Each issue has a competition and readers decide their three favourite stories. It is always interesting to see how different people’s opinions are.

The annual subscription is £15 for four issues (£21 overseas) and the stories are more varied than the usual magazine fare. If you are a writer looking for a home for a story of up to 3000 words you might find Scribble the best place to try.

http://www.parkpublications.co.uk

Magazines

When I go on holiday I usually take a novel to read but this time I took a short story magazine. Once I had finished reading them I looked for something else to do. I didn’t feel inspired to write anything so I bought a “Take a Break” magazine – full of different puzzles. I don’t usually like crossword puzzles. I find them difficult – but there were variations on the theme from simple wordsearch puzzles to’guess the meaning’ type puzzles. My favourite turned out to be one where they give you three words and you have to find the word that connects them. We took the dog for walks but I am getting very out of breath on hills so we can’t go as far as we used to.Still, it has been a break – back to sorting out the poetry anthology on return.

Short Story. Bathtime. ( conclusion)

All I had in the kitchen that might work was bleach. I took the two tea towels from the oven door and soaked them in neat bleach, trying not to get any on my hands. Then, holding the dry ends, I rolled them up and pressed them under the bathroom door.

Then I pushed the waste bin up against the towels and put the kitchen stools in front of it. Only a strong, determined, creature could get past that lot.

I left the bedroom door open while I dressed – in more layers than I had intended, and put on heavy shoes instead of my fluffy slippers. As I did so I heard Bert’s key in the door. What would he say when he saw the barrier I had erected in front of the bathroom? He could be in urgent need of the toilet. I shivered at the thought of his anger.

“What the hell’s all this?” he shouted from the hall.

“Don’t go in there – there’s a snake loose. It was in the bath.” I called out to him as if I cared- but something was making me feel the fates were on my side. My mean spirited husband was about to meet the devil monster and all I could think was that he deserved it.

“You’re senile, woman. Why did you do that?”

“I thought it might get out.”

He shifted the stools and kicked the material away from the door, flinging it open.I didn’t know whether to stay and watch or hide in the bedroom. I took the coward’s way out and waited, and waited. At first all was quiet.

Then there came a horrible scream and lots of splashing. I blocked my ears. Was this what I had expected or had I thought it was my imagination, or the result of the pills I had to take?

I shuddered and pushed open the bedroom door. The smell of burning intensified.I remembered what Bert had said, “What the hell is all this?” as I tiptoed towards the bathroom.The brown water had drained away leaving a nasty stain on the enamel but there was no sign of my husband, or the snake – just a pair of brown boots by the side of the bath.

I can’t imagine what had happened to him but he hasn’t come back so, you see, I no longer have a carer and I really can’t manage on my own.

Short Story. Bathtime(Part 2)

Something black seemed to be poking out of the tap. I watched, mesmerised, not believing what I was witnessing. Was it a piece of rubber washer, or something alive? Surely it was just an old twig that had fallen into the water tank and become dislodged?

Then, as it emerged, I realised it was a snake, but not the kind of snake I recognised. It wasn’t green, or patterned – it was almost black, but with a strange rusty sheen. Sticks do not wave their heads in the air; sticks do not have tongues that flick.

More of the snake was coming out of the tap. If I was to escape I would have to move now, quickly, something I had not done for years. Normally I would clamber onto my knees to get out of the bath –  but that meant turning my back on the creature. The handle on the wall was half way down the bath, too far to reach safely. There was no use shouting, no-one would hear me. I had to keep my eyes on the swaying head of the snake and ease myself up to lean on the back wall. My legs ached as I strained to keep my balance. I prayed the mat would stop my feet from slipping under me.

Most of the snake was visible now – and dark red liquid was pouring from the tap into the bath, turning the water brown. I clutched at the shower curtain and the pole shifted and creaked. It would not take my weight. I would have to climb out.

Short Story( part 1)

Bathtime

Could you help me? I wasn’t supposed to take a bath when Bert was out of the bungalow but whenever I asked him to help he always complained that I should use the shower, as he did. “Great White Whale” was one of the kindest names he called me.

I put in plenty of water and a generous dollop of bath essence and stepped in carefully, holding onto the handle on the wall. Then I lowered myself down – with the usual splash as my backside hit the protective mat.

The water was warm and soothing as, leaning back, I braced myself for the cold enamel surface and then closed my eyes and let my legs stretch out. The scented bubbles hid most of my wrinkled body but I had to frown at the pale pink mound that was my stomach. This was more than middle-aged spread. This was old woman’s flabbiness.

I lifted my feet out of the water and looked at my toes. The nails were yellow and rough. I needed to see someone about them.

I was getting cool so I bent forward to add more hot water. Then, taking the soap from the dish I began to wash myself, slowly and deliberately, enjoying the peace and relaxation.

It was when I looked up to add more water that I noticed something strange about the cold tap. It seemed to be smoking. A thin wisp of white mist was rising from the mouth of the tap and there was a peculiar metallic smell in the air.

I watched as the smoke rose, curling towards the ceiling, hoping it would stop – but another puff emerged and headed upwards.

I was afraid to lean forwards and turn the tap. Instead, I pulled my legs in, raising my knees, and waited for the mystery to resolve itself.