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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Short Story - Week 2: Good Day? Bad Day?

Ray Bradbury wrote that ‘it’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.’ This is my challenge – write 52 short stories over the course of a year, and quite possibly, prove Mr. Bradbury wrong!

This week’s story is another that I wrote prior to setting myself the writing challenge. This one was a writing exercise with a writers group I attended last year. The exercise was to write a five-hundred word short story, using a list of words as a prompt. The list was created by each member of the group contributing one word, and this is what we came up with:

·         library
·         indoctrination
·         mystery
·         fantasy
·         sky
·         celebrate
·         wright
·         waterfall

The story is contrived, but that’s sort of the point with these types of exercises. Trying to make a story fit around random words, especially when you don’t have a lot of words at your disposal is always going to be a challenge! It was critiqued by several people in the group, so it has been edited, as well as the ending revised, which is why the word count is now just over five hundred. Enjoy, and let me know what you think – but be nice!


Earthquake damage
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Good Day? Bad Day?

Charlie swung open the door to the library. Inside it was cool and dark compared to the warmth and sunshine of the late-spring day outside.

“Hey Charlie!” Gloria was at the information desk.  “You’re looking pretty pleased with yourself.” It was true. Charlie had just finished the indoctrination period for his new job and was in the mood to celebrate.

‘You got it, Gloria! I’m here to take Emma to lunch.”

“She’ll be out in a minute.”

“Thanks!”

Charlie knew that a minute would be at least five, so he headed toward the stacks of books. There was a sofa and TV back there, so maybe he would watch the news to pass the time.

No sooner had he sat down when the walls around him vibrated. Charlie attempted to stand but couldn’t. Time warped as he struggled to figure out what was happening. An earthquake! With that realization he again tried to move. He needed to get Emma, to get out, but the books started to come down like a waterfall - a literary cataract that hit his head, dazing him and got under his feet making him trip. As he fell he heard a creaking, groaning sound followed by a crash. He glimpsed the shelving unit coming toward him, then darkness.

When Charlie came to, the air was thick with dust. He stared at a hole in the ceiling; the blue sky was a cheery counterpoint to the damage below. Where was Emma? The thought made Charlie try to scramble to his feet, but he couldn’t move. He was pinned. He flopped back into the pile of mystery novels and fantasy stories. Was anything broken? He wiggled fingers and toes. Thank God, as far as he could tell, everything worked the way it was supposed to. The worst thing seemed to be his throbbing head.

“Emma?”  The dust had made his throat dry and his cry came out as a croak.  “Anyone?”

When he heard no response, Charlie panicked. Where was everyone? He squirmed to look around but could see nothing.

“Hello?  Emma?  Gloria?  Anyone?” His voice was still hoarse, but grew louder with each call.

“Charlie Wright?  Charlie?”  A man’s voice answered.

“Yes!  Yes!  Over here!”  Charlie saw a flashlight bobbing around, then a fireman appeared out of the dust cloud.

“You hang tight.”  The fireman kneeled down beside him.  “We’ll get you out of there as soon as we can.”
He turned, waving his flashlight as a signal.

“Over here!  I’ve found him.  I’m gonna need some help though, to lift this shelving.”

As three more firemen picked their way across the floor, another, more nimble figure dashed around them. Emma! She ran to his other side and took his hand.


Charlie smiled up at her as the firemen readied themselves to lift. She smiled back and wiped a smudge from his cheek. He was bruised, banged up and would, no doubt, feel the pain for days. But he was in one piece. More importantly Emma had escaped and was fine. This was so far from what he originally imagined, but it was, ultimately, still a good day!


17 comments:

  1. It'll be fun to come with you on this writing journey! Looking forward, Donna!

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    1. Thank you, Carol! I may need the company!

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  3. Would not have known the path that led to this story. It seemed natural weaving these words in. Only the ending felt too hollywoodish.

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    1. I agree, I wasn't happy with the ending either, but I ran out of words, certainly in the original. Thank you for the feedback!

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  4. Yes, it was a good day! He was safe and sound! That's something we should all remember every day!

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    1. That was what I was hoping to convey - that even out of something bad, there can be something good.

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  5. OK... I'm hooked!... what was it? Earthquake... airplane... bomb... UFO? The photo suggests earthquake. Your writing is easy to read (yes, I know I am repeating myself).

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    1. Yep - it was an earthquake! Thanks (again), I'm glad that you're finding the writing easy to read. It's part of what I hope for when I write.

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  6. Great story!! I found it to be quite intriguing and think you did a fabulous job in writing it. I am looking forward to more stories!

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    1. Thanks, Cher-Ann, I'm glad you liked it. I hope that I can keep entertaining you!

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  7. Great start! I applaud your goal to write. I know it is challenging but you are off to a great start.

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    1. Thanks Tammi, I appreciate that. It will be a challenge over the long haul, but the goal is primarily to keep myself writing regularly - and to learn and improve.

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  8. I love your take on the list of words you were given. I'm afraid I would not have been as original as yourself. I was immediately thinking of a fantasy land with some sort of magical waterfall. It's funny how different people will see different things in a collection of words. I use writing prompts all the time with my class but I often find they respond better to visual prompts. That said, I think I might borrow your word list - it would be interesting to see what their imaginations come up with.
    It is great fun reading your work and I'm looking forward to keeping you company along the way.

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    1. Thanks, Caroline. It was interesting reading what some of the other members of the group wrote for this exercise, and yes, it is amazing to me how each person's mind comes up with something so different. I love your fantasy world with the magical waterfall - that could be so much fun!

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  9. What a fantastic challenge to write 52 stories Donna! Looking forward to see the next ones. We're here to cheer you on so you continue writing. You're so funny when you say you'd prove Ray Bradbury wrong :)

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    1. Thanks, Delia. It will be quite the challenge! It'll be nice to have a cheering section though!

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