Off the page – 200-word june homework


The brief: 200 word suspense…1st prsn, or 3rd restricted; no reveal
Suspense can be thought of as generated by the deliberate withholding of information from a reader through the strategic use of point of view.”  Spend some time writing a first person, or third-person restricted, narrative where you lead your reader on but refuse to divulge the full picture of what is actually going on.


The lights are off, inside the building and out in the car park. This place is so familiar I don’t need them. I tighten my grip on the handles of my bag, and feel to check I’ve left the desktop as clear after my rummaging as it’d been when I arrived.

One small chink of keys in my pocket is the only sound. My tread is silent as I cross the room. At the first door, as I place my hand on its handle I remember one hinge squeaks. I work a mouthful of spit, and dribble onto the one at waist height. 

The handle makes no sound, the hinge is silent. I slip through and make sure the door doesn’t ‘clunk’ as it’s forced closed by the fitting above. Across the linoleum floor I feel the cold through my socks. The outer door opens without a sound. I slip my feet into my shoes waiting at the door sill. I get the keys from my right pocket, and lock the door again.

It’s cold, a frost. The night’s black, stars a bright contrast. Cold air stings my lungs, drowns the traffic noise. No-one will know. A sound alarm? Pff!

© Lynne McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2016

Off the page – 200-word homework, May ’16


I chose this bach at the end of the beach road after watching for two nights and a day – no lights, no movement, no one living here. A perfect hiding place, its porch faced the headland away from neighbouring baches – just right for recuperation in seclusion from prying eyes. This first night, all I needed was sleep. I’d break the door lock in the morning, after the neighbour took his skiff out for fishing.

I sprawled on the floor. The cotton rug was too scratchy, so I slung it onto the narrow bench-seat. The wooden planks of the partially closed in verandah were cooler to lie on – soothing to aches, bruises, scratches and burns in the summer night’s heat. I started relaxing into sleep almost immediately.

A peculiar feeling, like an ever expanding cold tingle, stirred me wide awake. It crawled over me, my neck, shoulders, back… wrapping me in a creepy prickling sensation. I should have been alone, but I wasn’t. I listened through the blackness.

A snuffling noise. I rolled over and under the bench, pulling the rug back down over me. The click of nails on steps. Damn! The dog had followed me from the crash site!

Off the Page – 200 word homework


There’s something about Douglas Archer…I can’t quite put my finger on anything in particular…it’s just— Things don’t add up. He wears a wedding ring on a cord around his neck, but his house— Have you been inside? Nothing lady-like, feminine. No photos of any woman at all. No frilly touches. How long’s he been here?

That’s eight years more than me, and I still don’t know him. Oh, we talk. At the tea rooms when we sit together over a scone and a shared pot. Always in green corduroys, even in summer. And that green… checky-type… flat cap. Doesn’t  take it off, ever.

But I always get a funny feeling whenever I see him…not up close, but when he’s like, on the other side of the road, or way across the supermarket… It’s like – I’ve known him before. Curious that, cause he’s never mentioned any towns or villages I’ve been. Anyway, enough about “Ginger Head”. Glasses like owl eyes.

What’re  you reading? Oh, I know that magazine. From Scotland? Yes, off you go. I’ll have a quick flick through it while you’re “occupied”.

Oo, Murderer’s Son Looking For Father. I remember that case – Archie McDougal. Old photograph…

…Oh! Ooh!!

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Written as a 200-word homework piece, given the brief to provide background to a character, either Ruth McLean or Douglas Archer, and using the word “curious”, for the April meeting.
The latest 200-word homework piece is at the dedicated page here at my site.

 

Le Tour d’Eiffel


At the writers’ group, we were shown a small model of the Eiffel Tower, and asked to write whatever came into our heads, based on the model. Here’s my effort, written in the ten-minute allowed.

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Zhwoowh, zhwoowh, zhwoowh …
Fading in and out, finally strengthening in its solidarity, a blue small box – the height of a small shed, but of a size for only one, with a blue blinking light on top, materialized on the footpath corner.
The noise died down. all that could be heard now was the sounds of occasional night road traffic.
The door opened, and out stepped a tall man, wearing a long coat with a ridiculous top hat on his mass of curls, followed by a young woman, blonde and busty, with a slightly vapid, bored expression on her face.
   ” Look, it’s still here. I told you it would be,” gloated the man.
   ” Well, o’ course,  ‘s been ‘ere since 1800 and somefin’, ‘s made of iron and it ain’t gonna gerrup an’ walk off, is it nah?” She was obviously  bored, or failed to understand his excitement.
   ” You just watch,” he said. “Tonight’s the night. It’ll all happen tonight, and we got here in time!”
   “Wha’ will?,” she asked, examining her nail polish.
   “Galarians. They’ve been slowly gathering here for days. Tonight we’ll see them take off to fly back to Galaria.”

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From the top field


farmer on high field He leans back against the top wire of the fence, arms folded, glaring over the paddocks down to the farm house.
That bloody green ute’s back – and yes, there’s Gloria climbing out the passemger window in last night’s finery.
Now leaning back in – probably locking lips with that no good son of the jerk farming the back block at the end of the hill country gravel road.

“Lazy young shite he is. That ute door’s been rusted shut for years, even from back before his dad gave it to him. And my Gloria has to latch onto him as her boyfriend. Wouldn’t mind if he had a job, or helped his Dad on their farm. But no, the high school rock band’s his major daily focus.
Oh, no!”

Even from up here he can see Gloria’s ball gown’s ripped through the back.
He straightens up, mounts the quad bike and sends it pell-mell down the slope, hoping to get there before the green ute pulls out and away.

“Manhandle my daughter, would you? Would you bloody not!”

 

The picturre was the inspiration for a ten-minute Quick-Write practice activity;
© Lynne R McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2013 August

That Sinking Feeling


I’d left my desk early, on the pretext of getting the tea room ready for morning break. I’d passed Julie, frantically typing up whatever garbled message her boss had left on his dictaphone. Marie was sorting invoices, matching them to statements of accounts payable and stapling them – with that furious “THUMP” on the stapler to let everyone know she hated this job. Noel was emptying his client’s suitcase of all the month’s business papers. No one looked at me as I passed.

I was clutching the envelope in one hand buried deep in my suit pocket. I’d not opened it yet. I wanted to be on my own, as I had that sinking feeling that goes through every employee in a business where there are rumors of layoffs.

I filled the Zip, pulled the cord. While it started to rumble, heating the water, I clattered the coffee cups and mugs into neat rows, emptied the humongous teapot and threw in the customary handful of tea-leaves. Sugar tin out of the cupboard, milk bottle out of the fridge, teaspoons clinked into a mug.

As the Zip screamed, I leaned against the bench and opened it.

Phew!  Only a pay-rise!

(C) Lynne McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, Aug ’13

10-minute “Quick Write” – I was plunging down, down, down …


Ten-minute Quick Write is an activity my local writers group gives us periodically. The last starter was “I was plunging down, down, down “. Now, I don’t swim (therefore no Scuba Diving. I’m poorer than any church mouse ever was, so I’ve never tried Sky Diving. I don’t go Mountain or Rock Climbing, so I can’t imagione plummeting in free-fall down a hillside or rock-face.A “true experience” piece was out of order for me. So a penchant for crime and action reading helped a little. Here’s what made its way from my brain, down my arm, through my hand and fingers then through the pen onto the paper.

I was plunging down, down, down – desparately pulling myself deeper, trying to see through the murky water which roiled around the wharf’s piles. Somewhere ahead of me, she was sinking quickly to the harbour’s bed, chained to a concrete bollard.

As my chest began to ache with the rib muscles’ need to gain some fresh air, I wondered if she, so much deeper than I, would be drowning now.

At last, I saw her pale face below me, turned upward to the surface. Her eyes were open, staring.

As I kicked harder and closed the gap between us, she saw me – she blinked. I grabbed at one of her arms reaching up to me. From my pocket I pulled the mini bolt cutters I’d snatched from the chop-shop I had run through to get to the wharf’s edge.

Two men had pushed her over the edge into the harbour as I burst out onto the wharf. I heard her cry, the splash, and racing past them I’d dived straight in.

I cut the chain and freed her from the weight holding her down. With an arm around her, I swam us in and up under the wharf between the huge supports. I placed my mouth over her soft, cold lips, and felt them part. I blew air into her mouth.

We kicked together, driving up to the surface, out of sight of the two hoods – who may already have left, or more likely would be waiting above to shoot at whoever came up out of what they had expected to be her watery grave.

As we approached the surface, I slowed. I wanted to break the surface without a splash. She seemed to understand. As our heads cleared the water, against all instinct we both held our breath before releasing it  slowly without a gasp, and inhaling again smoothly and quietly. We clung to the pile, in the cold water and beyond any sunlight or view, listening for any sounds from above.

© Lynne R McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2013, July

Good heavens it’s 332 words! Hand writing is definitely faster for me than typing! (Doubles the work though, darn it.)